Above World - By Jenn Reese

ALUNA SWAM TOWARD the abandoned outpost, her heart pounding, her breathing necklace pulsing at her throat. She kicked her legs harder, wishing it were tomorrow. Wishing she already had her tail. With a tail, she could speed through the water, fast as a dolphin.

Goldenfins and shiny-blues darted out of her way. Most of the sun’s light was gobbled up by the ocean above her, but she could still see every frond of kelp, every sprout of rainbow coral, every pair of eyes hidden deep in a hidey-hole. The ancients had blessed the Kampii with everything they needed to survive underwater: powerful tails, thick bones and tough skin, adaptable vision, breathing necklaces . . . everything except the ability to fix their own tech when it started to fail.

“Hurry up,” she called to Hoku. The thick ocean swallowed the sound, but the tiny artifact in her throat sent her words directly to the artifacts in Hoku’s ears . . . despite the fact that he was trailing ten meters behind her.

“I’m swimming as fast as I can,” Hoku said. “You know, there might be a reason the outpost is forbidden. Maybe it’s overrun with Deepfell.”

“Deepfell don’t hunt this far into the shallows,” Aluna said, hoping she was right. She and Hoku would both be fish food if she wasn’t.

“I think we should turn back. My grandma will worry if I’m not in the nest for dinner.”

Aluna swung her body upright and treaded in the current. She could see Hoku in the distance, swimming slowly with his pale, scrawny legs and terrible technique. “Four Kampii have died in the last three moons, and the Elders want us to believe their deaths were all accidents? They’re hiding something, something important. The ancients lived at this outpost for years before the City of Shifting Tides was even built. I know it holds the answers.”


“And who knows?” she said. “Maybe we’ll find a few artifacts for your workshop. . . .”

“Oh, tides’ teeth,” Hoku said. “I’ll be there in a flash.”

He caught up, his freckled face red from the effort. And from thinking about artifacts, no doubt. Hoku could stay hunched over his workbench for days when he got a new piece of tech.

“We’d better find something good,” he said with a grin.

She laughed and kicked off. “Let’s swim. We only have a few hours before full dark.”

But instead of fading into blackness, the ocean grew brighter as they swam. Aluna drifted to a stop before a shimmering dome of white light. It looked as if the moon had fallen into the sea and lay buried halfway in the sand.

“A glowfield!” Hoku said. “It takes forever to breed the right jellyfish and to get them to knit together in the correct pattern. You were right — whatever the Elders are hiding, it must be important.”

“How do we get through the barrier?” Aluna unfastened the knife strapped to her thigh and swam closer. Thousands of jellyfish floated in a vast web, their tentacles intertwined so closely that not even a hermit crab could slip through their embrace. She looked for a spot with fewer tendrils and readied her blade. “Maybe we can cut a hole.”

“Oh, it’s not difficult to cut through the jellyfish,” Hoku said absently. “The hard part is resisting the paralysis they cause.”

“Paralysis?” Aluna yanked her weapon away from the jellyfish and bolted backward. “Next time, make that the first thing you mention, okay?”

She looked closer and spotted fish stuck to the glowfield like shells woven into her sister’s hair. Some of the fish struggled weakly, but most were dead and partially eaten. She had no intention of sharing their fate.

“I can see buildings!” Hoku said, peering between jellyfish. “The ancients conducted experiments here, back when they were figuring out how to work with the ocean spirits, before the first Kampii colony was founded. I wonder if any of their equipment still works.”

Aluna squinted through the tendrils, careful to keep her distance. A cluster of barnacle-covered domes sat in the middle of the glowfield, silent and serene. In the white jellyfish light, they looked like pearls.

“Sarah Jennings must have come here,” Aluna said wistfully. “This was her home before she founded the City of Shifting Tides and saved us all from the Above World.”

“Aluna,” Hoku whispered.

“We’ve got to get inside,” she said. “The Elders want to keep us out, and I want to know why.”

“Aluna,” he whispered again, his eyes wide and focused on something behind and above her. “I don’t think it’s us the